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Griffin Asks Agencies for List of Cuts

Fairfax County Executive Anthony Griffin last week asked agency heads for a list of potential budget cuts for the Board of Supervisors to consider as they try to make ends meet in FY 2003.

Griffin stipulated that “no agency is exempted from this exercise.”

When he made temporary five percent budget cuts last October, Griffin exempted public safety, facilities management, and health agencies because of the Sept. 11 terrorist acts. This time, the list of reductions will be made across the board.

IN A MEMO to the senior management team, Griffin said some jobs and services “of a recurring nature” might be necessary.

But in a separate e-mail to Fairfax County staff, he reassured employees that “I do not anticipate at this time that any proposed reductions that include the elimination of positions will result in a Reduction in Force action,” nor will salaries be cut.

Merni Fitzgerald, director of Public Affairs, said Griffin is looking for options the Board of Supervisors can think about as they go into a three-day series of budget hearings.

Griffin’s April 3 memo to senior managers gave agency heads until 5 p.m. on Monday, April 8, to come up with their lists.

“Let me be very clear in noting that I am expecting each agency to present reduction strategies that are reasonable and protect the core and mandated services of that agency,” he said. “Proposals that include ‘Washington Monument’ type cuts will not be accepted and you will be required to provide other reductions,” Griffin wrote.

At the April 8 Board of Supervisors meeting, Chairman Katherine Hanley directed Griffin to draw up the list before the April 10 budget hearing.

“THIS GIVES the Board of Supervisors some options, and gives them a lot of information [on which] to base their discussions,” Fitzgerald said. “They need this information before they start making decisions.”

The schedule of speakers for public hearings April 8-10 filled up early last week. A total of about 250 people had signed up to speak by April 2.

On Oct. 25, 2001, Griffin directed agencies to cut their budgets by five percent as part of the FY2002 third quarter review to make up for an anticipated shortfall in revenue.

Police, fire, facilities management, and public health agencies were exempted because of the Sept. 11 terrorism, Fitzgerald said.

Those cuts saved about $17 million, but still fell short of the $23 million drop-off in the third quarter, she said.

Those cuts were achieved by leaving job openings unfilled, Griffin said, but were not applied to the base line of the budget.

At $1.23 per every $100 of market value, Fairfax County is equal with a proposed lower rate in Prince William County that is set for a vote on April 16. The rate in Prince William is presently $1.30.

In Loudoun County, the tax rate was cut last week from $1.08 to $1.05.

If the tax rate were cut in Fairfax County, it would cost about $12 million for every one cent cut in the tax rate.

Supervisors will “mark up” the budget on April 22 with final approval scheduled April 29.